by Jody Neufeld
“Our Father God loved all of His children so much that He gave the only Son He has as the blood sacrifice, so that everyone who has faith in him who did this, will have eternal life and never really die. And Father God did not send his Son to this world to live with us and condemn us. He sent him to save us!” – John 3:16-17 (my paraphrase and emphasis)
This is arguably the most known New Testament Scripture, and yet, it is not just the lost souls of this world or even the nominal Believers who occasionally sit in a pew one hour a week who do not get it. We, the Church, do not understand it either! For if we did, the Church would be on fire with love for God and would infect the world!
There is nothing that I can do to make God love me more.
God’s love is perfect and complete. There is no “more” or “less” in His love for me. Even the love that I have for my child is not that perfect but it does give me a point of reference. Do I love my child less when he/she lies? No. I am sad that they made that choice. Do I love my child more when they throw me a birthday party? No. But I am happy that we spend time together!
What are we teaching in our fellowships? Are we teaching by our words and actions that there is a checklist which will bring us in greater favor with God? Or are we showing by our teachings how much God loves us? And are we being the hands and feet of God to show how much God loves, even when we are unlovable?
There is no program that I can conceive which can explain God’s love other than for me to love. Programs, the characteristic of being organized to be God’s hands and feet, are not a bad thing. But when the program, rigid adherence to its tasks and applause to its members, becomes the focus instead of the people it serves and their changing needs, then God is no longer being glorified.
A thrift store or a food pantry which is conceived in order to meet the needs of the poor, is a wonderful, community-focused 21st century concept which is much like what the apostles did in the first century Church. But what if someone has a need and has no transportation to the store? Will the hands and feet of this program deliver the food or transport the needy? Do those who come have to prove their need? Are they required to confess their need for the Savior first? How many people knew who Jesus was and confessed their belief in Him as Messiah before He healed them?
Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, did not come to earth to condemn or judge, I do that to myself by my choice. It is so easy to speak John 3:16 and not hear it in context with the whole of that chapter, or for that matter, the whole of Jesus’ three year message. I am still reading and studying that! But if I read John 3:17-21, I am taught, as a member of Christ’s Church, that judgment is not mine to even consider, much less execute. Each person makes their own choice. I am to love. I am to give. I am to go. I do not judge. And isn’t that freeing when I think about my life and what God asks of me, calls me to do in this world?
My friends, my brothers and sisters who are loved by Father God, let us not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). Let us just keep doing good like Jesus did. Whoever may come into my path today needs to know that Father God loves them. And Father God has given me the opportunity to deliver that message in a real, true, tangible way. Am I willing? Yes, LORD!
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